Coping with an unsettled, crying baby

Parents with babies who cry inconsolably for prolonged periods have specific and important needs during this phase of the First Three Months.

Finding support

Parents who have been through this experience say that the most important help they received includes:

  • Having people who believed how difficult their situation was
  • Getting positive emotional support from someone who listened carefully and understood what they needed
  • Receiving ongoing positive practical help and support with their baby
  • Having someone who helped them find professional support when they needed it
  • Having someone who didn’t judge them and gave them constant positive reassurance that the crying would end.

It didn’t matter whether the help came from one or a few people, as long as the parents received this type of support. That person could be a friend, family member or health professional. There’s always someone out there who can give you the support you need. When you’re having a hard time, you deserve to be supported, listened to and helped. You need both practical and emotional support, even someone just holding your baby for a bit can be helpful, so you can take advantage of the break.

When you are feeling that your situation is more than you can manage, then professional help is always available from your Child and Family Health nurse, counsellor, social worker or psychologist. Make sure you see someone who has experience in working with parents and babies. You need some space where you can offload any pent-up feelings, no matter whether it’s sadness, guilt, anger or grief. There should be no judgements. This type of talking therapy can help you find some relief, so you and your baby can start enjoying each other again.

Take some calming breaths

When you’re really upset, you often take quick shallow breaths from the top of your chest. These sort of breaths don’t oxygenate your brain and body well. When practising calming breaths, it is important to focus on what you are doing when you breathe in and out.

Take a moment then some good clearing breaths to calm down and help focus your thoughts on your baby.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Close your eyes, lift your chin so your head is straight, straighten your back and make sure your chest can move freely
  • Place your hands in your lap and relax your your shoulders
  • Focus on taking in a slow breath through your nose, while counting ‘one-and-two-and-three’.
  • Gently breathe in so you can feel your breath lift your rib cage.
  • Don’t breathe in too deeply or hold your breath – you don’t want to get dizzy.
  • Then breathe out gently, counting ‘one-and-two-and-three’.
  • Keep your eyes closed and focus on your breathing.
  • Repeat this four or five times in a row then stop.

Tresillian the First three monthsIt’s never too late to look for help.  Filled with sensible, reassuring advice, the new Tresillian Book The First Three Months aims to help parents understand the reality of life with a newborn.

This extract has been taken from Tresillian’s The First Three Months (HarperCollins Publishers RRP$34.99) available now online direct from Tresillian or from your local bookshop. Part of the proceeds of this book go to Tresillian, Australia’s largest early parenting organisation providing advice and guidance to thousands of families over 100 years.